Police: Repairmen mistaken for would-be thieves - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Police: Repairmen mistaken for would-be thieves

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

They made the news Tuesday as suspects in an attempted ATM theft. But it turns out they were just on the job.

It's a situation that turned into a nightmare for a local business owner and it all started with a lack of communication that police say they hope doesn't happen again.

"I definitely been stressed out all night and pretty much all morning," said Adam Norton of North Electric Incorporated.

It's the last thing Norton expected after taking a job with Burlington Public Works to fix an outlet at the Outdoor Gear Exchange on Church Street.

"They didn't ask for ID, all the girl said was you're fine. I didn't think anything of it," Norton said.

After letting cashiers know he was there, Norton located the outlet behind the Key Bank ATM with a Burlington inspector. He later returned with his crew and tried to move the machine out of the way, leading some employees of the Outdoor Gear Exchange to think he was a thief.

"We contacted Key Bank and asked them if there was anything scheduled for some maintenance of their ATM and they said no. After they headed over here, we realized that maybe it's time to take the next step," said Roy Quanstrom, a loss prevention specialist at the Outdoor Gear Exchange.

The electrical contractors left the store, unable to move the machine. With a mix up in communication, police were called.

"The bank said they had no request to have any work done on the ATM, so therefore all we had to go on was what was being reported and that was a potential theft of an ATM machine," Burlington Deputy Police Chief Bruce Bovat said.

Next thing Norton knew, he was on the news for attempted grand larceny. He called police to set the record straight. Then he called WCAX News.

"They didn't know who we were so it was really hard to put a name on a face unless they got tips. Get the story correct is the biggest thing I guess," Norton said.

Employees who witnessed it all say they followed procedure by reporting suspicious activity, but next time they'll ask more questions.

"I wish that I had gotten a conversation with them while they were doing it, but looking back that is exactly what we should've done and that's what we will do in the future," Quanstrom said.

"This seems like the perfect storm. There were several people, several entities involved, they weren't speaking to each other clearly and the confusion came from that. So coming back to clear, concise communication probably would've resolved this before it ever started," Bovat said.

"Next time I go into a store like that, I will ask to see a manager, I will make sure that I show them ID, maybe a business card, something to show that I'm legit and make sure this doesn't happen," Norton said.

After the air was cleared, there was still some unfinished business.

"The outlet's not fixed yet," Norton said.

And Norton says he doesn't want to be the one to fix it.

Norton says this incident has not affected his business and he hopes his customers will understand this is just a case of bad communication. Police did say they are sorry for how the situation played out, but they were just doing their job.

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